WASHINGTON — With a $161.4 billion base budget request — the most in its history — the Navy and Marine Corps will buy more weapons systems in fiscal 2012 that enable them to do more remote-control fighting from afar and, when called upon, get closer to shore for future conflicts. Eventually.

The budget makes official what Defense Secretary Robert Gates long has said was coming: DOD canceled the overdue, overbudget Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, will buy more F/A-18s while F-35 kinks are ironed out, and stock up on unmanned planes, helicopters and submarines.


Marinette, Wis., and Mobile, Ala.. shipyards: Why choose between two different Littoral Combat Ship designs when you can have both? The Navy’s competition drove down the price so much, it decided to buy 10 of each. Widen the lens: more shallow-water, counterterrorism capabilities for the future.

Robots at war: The Navy continues to buy higher numbers of unmanned aircraft and submarines, ramping up funding for carrier-launched drones able to spy and strike over-the-horizon enemies. It plans to buy 12 additional remotely piloted MQ-8 Fire Scout helicopters instead of three, and added $721 million for research.

Naval Aviation: Gates gave the overdue F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program a two year stay of execution, authorizing the Navy to buy more 41 more new F/A-18s than previously planned and extending the life of old ones.


U.S. Marines: Nothing personal, but the Pentagon wants 15,000 fewer of them. The pace of the Afghanistan drawdown between July 2011 and 2014 will dictate how soon the Corps returns from 202,000 Marines back toward a pre-9/11 force size. Like everything else, it’s “conditions-based.”

F-35B Joint Strike Fighter: The Navy/Marine Corps cut 65 purchases from its original plans through fiscal 2016. They really want a version capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings. The clock is ticking.

EFV: The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle is officially dead. That is, if the Pentagon has anything to say about it. Despite a DOD commitment to find a new amphibious ship-to-shore vehicle, some in Congress will give their best resistance to save the EFV.


1 — New nuclear attack submarine to be delivered in fiscal 2012

3,586 — Hellfire missiles purchased over the next five years

26,000 — Marines deployed worldwide

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